Ghatkopar Hoarding Collapse: Structural Audits Ordered Across Mumbai Metropolitan Region

Ghatkopar Hoarding Collapse: Structural Audits Ordered Across Mumbai Metropolitan Region

No action was taken in the past against the giant hoarding that crashed on a petrol pump in Ghatkopar on Monday evening as a dispute was underway between the BMC and the Government Railway Police (GRP), an official said.

Suresh Golani Raina Assainar Bhalchandra Chorghade NK GuptaUpdated: Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 11:47 PM IST
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Ghatkopar Hoarding Collapse: Structural Audits Ordered Across Mumbai Metropolitan Region | PTI

Mumbai: It has taken 14 deaths and countless injuries for the BMC to say that it will act against all hoardings erected without its permission. No action was taken in the past against the giant hoarding that crashed on a petrol pump in Ghatkopar on Monday evening as a dispute was underway between the BMC and the Government Railway Police (GRP), an official said.

While BMC chief Bhushan Gagrani, on Tuesday, said that the drive will start with the removal of the remaining three hoardings on the GRP land in Ghatkopar, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde also gave directives to the civic body.

Meanwhile, Thane, Navi Mumbai and the twin city of Mira-Bhayandar have individually issued notices to billboard holders to conduct audits of their structures to avert any such incident.

In Kalyan, MLA Vishwanath Bhoir urged the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) to ensure structural audits of hoardings. In response, deputy municipal commissioner of KDMC, Dhairyasheel Jadhav, said, “So far, permissions have been granted to 182 legal hoardings. They have now been asked to get their structures audited and submit reports within 15 days.” He said the civic body doesn’t have a list of illegal hoardings in the region so far but a survey will be conducted soon.

Moved by the Ghatkopar tragedy, Bhoir said that the property department of the BMC should have paid heed to whether a structural audit had been conducted or not. “The property department should have checked the condition of the hoardings. It was not a natural disaster but man-made negligence,” he said, urging KDMC chief Indurani Jakhar to ensure that a repeat of the incident doesn’t occur in their jurisdiction.

While the BMC and its counterparts elsewhere in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region have woken up from their slumber, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) claimed to have already taken measures to avert such tragedies.

MBMC chief Sanjay Katkar said they have already weeded out old hoardings from public places. He added that the owners of those installed on private properties were issued notices on April 25 to submit structural stability certificates within 15 days, failing which their structures will be pulled down from May 18 onwards.

Katkar said, “While we are already very cautious in issuing fresh permissions, new hoardings are being erected on suitable spots on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis in compliance with safety parameters.”

According to MBMC officials, 166 hoardings (including 110 ; 20 feet x20 feet) were leased out by the civic body. In addition, 57 huge billboards have been installed on private properties. However, after a billboard collapsed in the Pimpri-Chinchwad area of Pune in April last year, the MBMC swung into action by demanding structural stability certificates for hoardings erected on private properties.

“While all hoardings leased by the MBMC have been dismantled, we are regularly verifying stability certificates. A couple of private owners who are yet to submit current stability certificates will face action,” said an official attached to MBMC’s advertising wing.

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has also initiated stringent measures and will remove all illegal hoardings, while seeking structural audits of others.

NMMC commissioner Kailas Shinde met officials on Tuesday and said that fortunately no untoward incident was reported from Navi Mumbai following Monday’s dust storm. He added that they have called for structural audits of all hoardings by May 15, with reports submitted to the license department, failing which punitive action would be taken.

An NMMC official on condition of anonymity said that the licence department sends letters to every ward officer every month to inform the department about any illegal hoarding erected in their area. “We have a list of advertisers who are given permission and all illegal structures are removed immediately,” the official said, adding that the department also conducts structural audits at regular intervals. The official said that they recently recovered a penalty of Rs42 lakh from an advertiser who had flouted the norms and failed to submit a certificate regarding structural stability.

However, Congress party spokesperson in Navi Mumbai and a former corporator, Ravindra Sawant, said that gigantic hoardings can be seen all over Palm Beach Road and can face similar disaster as Mumbai. Demanding a structural audit of hoardings across the satellite, Sawant said that the NMMC should conduct a thorough survey even in residential complexes. He said, “Huge hoardings have been erected even on high-rises and should be checked.”

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